Did you know that you can turn horse chestnut aka conkers into a liquid laundry detergent? It is so very easy to make, zero waste and cost you nothing but some time. Let me show you how it’s done!
Here in Germany you can find plenty of horse chestnut trees everywhere. Even here in Munich are some trees in the streets. In Fall the shiny brown chestnuts fall off the trees and are ready to be collected. You can’t eat horse chestnut like other kinds but you can do other things with them. When I was a kid we used to collect them to do various crafts with them but obviously at that point in my life I didn’t turn them into laundry detergent.
Have you ever wondered “What can you use horse chestnuts for?” Well today I will show you how to turn them into laundry detergent. I read about this possibility many years ago but never got around to try it. A couple of days ago though I was passing a horse chestnut tree and found some laying on the ground. So I filled my pockets and took them back home. Now let me tell you how I turned them into a cleaning solution for my clothes.
This is what you’ll need:
It’s best to collect horse chestnut on a sunny day, when they’re dry. Otherwise the risk is high that they start to mold.
Wash the horse chestnut and dry them off. Now cut them with the knife into tiny pieces. You could also cut them into eights and put them in a blender. I cut them by hand as it saves energy and since I just did a small batch I could totally do it by hand. Be aware though if you’re blender is strong enough to handy the rather hard nuts. The pieces don’t have to be exactly the same size. Just cut them as tiny as you fancy. The smaller the better though.
After the horse chestnut are cut into pieces, you can let them dry on a kitchen towel on a baking tray. I just left them outside on a sunny weekend and let them air dry. You can also dry them in the oven at low temperature or you could use the rest heat after baking something for example. But you can also use them freshly cut. The effect will be the same. You just have to be careful as it can get really difficult to cut the whole chestnut into pieces once they dry out. So I prefer to cut them first.
As soon as the horse chestnut pieces are completely dry, you can store them in an airtight container.
For a full washing machine you will need about two table spoons of the dry pieces and fill them up with 500ml of water. Shake and you will already see some foam. That’s because the natural Saponin is a surfactant that lifts dirt from clothing. Let this mix sit for 8 hours. Strain the liquid through a sieve and pour it into the washing compartment of your machine to get rid of any small pieces. Trust me you don’t want any pieces in your washing machine. Now you can wash your laundry as usual. After that you can dry the horse chestnut pieces again and use them up to three times.
I only tried this washing method on dark clothing so far as the dark shells can stain your lighter clothes. So be aware of that. You could also remove the shell while cutting them up. But honestly I was too lazy for this step. Your clothes will smell like nothing after washing. If you prefer some scent you could add some drops of orange or lavender oil.
I must say I’m pretty impressed with the result of my homemade horse chestnut laundry detergent. Who would have thought that you can make a free laundry detergent just by using what nature delivers! By the way: You might also like this easy fall/winter candle decoration from natural materials.